Rémi Garde Has Simple Path to Improvement After Shambolic Team Selections of Predecessors

Only £3.5 million of what Villa spent over the summer was on the pitch against Spurs when the game kicked-off.

Revamp? Regression More Like

Remember this stat before we go on – Aston Villa signed 13 new players in the summer. Take away Scott Sinclair, and that’s 12 new signings who didn’t play for Villa last season.

This summer was mooted as the squad revamp that Villa badly needed after firstly finishing on only 38 points and then losing the key players in Christian Benteke, Fabian Delph and Tom Cleverley, lets throw in Ron Vlaar too, for sake of argument.

A pathetic 38 points and that was WITH Benteke, Delph & co.

So lets take a look at Villa’s starting line-up picked by Kevin MacDonald against Spurs and remember that Villa’s squad of players were pretty much all fit.

  • 01 Guzan
  • 21 Hutton
  • 06 Clark
  • 16 Lescott
  • 18 Richardson
  • 24 Sánchez
  • 15 Westwood 
  • 07 Bacuna
  • 40 Grealish 
  • 09 Sinclair
  • 11 Agbonlahor

Only one of the new signing that didn’t play last season – a past his best Joleon Lescott – was included in a team already far weaker than the one that only managed to finish on a sub 40 point total.

What was Kevin MacDonald playing at? There was only ever going to be one result. This was essentially Lambert’s team plus Lescott, minus Benteke, Delph and Cleverley. Where were the 12 new signings to strengthen and re-energise the Villa team?


With Sinclair and Lescott starting in McDonald’s selection, that meant only £3.5 million of what Villa spent over the summer was on the pitch against Spurs when the game kicked-off. That’s nothing short of astonishing, when you factor in that Villa were £40.5m down with Benteke and Delph’s absence. Factor in that Cleverley was on loan (valued at around £5m) and Vlaar went on free (value around £3.5), then Villa’s team was around £50m down on last season in terms of quality (more, if you consider Delph was sold at cut-price).

So in monetary value, Villa put out a team that was approximately net £-46.5 million down in quality on the already poor team of last season. It can only be labelled football suicide. It. Will. Not. Get. Results.

Only one player started the game against Spurs who had scored more than one goal last season and that was Gabby Agbonlahor (6), and his last goal was back in March 2015.

A moneyball approach has been largely responsible for the recruitment in the summer, but it’s a shame that such a statistical informed approach isn’t taken when actually picking the team for games, because the above stats just do not add-up.

Odd Selections

What on earth was Kevin MacDonald playing at? During mid-week we’d seen from the club’s photos the likes of Vertout, Ayew, Traore, all in the thick of the action in training, yet none of them started.

“I think Idrissa during the Swansea game looked tired,” said MacDonald. “We rested him for the Southampton game but he hasn’t had that spark that we saw in the first two or three games.”

Gana looked better than most Villa players against Swansea, yet you’re then resting him for two games?

Against Southampton in the League Cup, there was a great chance to give the new recruits game time, yet only three of the new boys (Gestede, Crespo, Amavi) started.


In Sherwood’s last couple of games he only played five new players, in line-ups that supporters were resigned to defeat, as soon as they saw them at 2pm.

If these players after 11 games are not considered good enough for the Premier League yet – a) why buy them? and b) the only way the key new players are going to be ready is by playing games, so why not play them in the cup game and against Spurs and Chelsea, games in which success was unlikely anyway.

It all seems a bit odd.

La Bonne Nouvelle

New Villa boss Rémi Garde MUST know all of the above and be thinking, here’s a job where I can look good from the off, because the previous men in charge haven’t actually been playing their best players. Potentially, Garde has a short path to take to instant improvement. He comes to the club without any chips on his shoulders about players and will play the best team according to who he thinks is the best.

His fresh eyes on the situation will be most welcome.

[AGAINST SPURS] Villa put out a team that was approximately a net £-46.5 million DOWN in quality on the already poor team of last season. It can only be labelled football suicide.

If Villa are to have any chance of success this season, then it will chiefly be on the shoulders of Veretout, Traore and Ayew to provide the attacking threat to bail them out, but they need games to gel and get used to the demands of the league.

A lot has been said about Traore’s contract, but I’m giving those at the club who brokered the deal, the benefit of the doubt that they surely couldn’t be that stupid to offer a deal to a raw 19-year-old player that would put him on £75,000 after a few appearances. This is despite the journalist who broke the story confirming to me it is true. All I’m going to say is I’m giving the club the benefit of the doubt, because that’s what common sense would dictate (however, lets not forget common sense has been a quality in short supply at the club for far too long).

Then there’s Veretout. For MOMS money potentially the summer signing that could give Villa a whole new dimension to the team. Yes, he’s now a young dad, but surely he’s not on maternity leave? Pretty much every footballer has kids when they’re young. It’s what they do when not playing football. Get him playing!

As for Ayew, just compare his performances in the last few games against Agbonlahor’s, to determine who should start out of the two of them.

Garde, of course has a chance of turning Villa around, because Villa have been shooting themselves in the foot up to now with head-scratching starting line-ups or poor in-game management.  The biggest question mark over the French man’s potential revolution is though, whether all these players that have been brought in by the recruitment team of O’Reilly, Almstadt and Sherwood under Fox, are good enough for the task ahead?

After the shenanigans of Sherwood and MacDonald, at least under Garde, we’ll finally get to find out.

Follow MOMS on Facebook – myoldmansaid



  1. I was excited by our signings over the summer – they looked good on paper but, as Tim said, they needed time to gel. But then he chopped the team around every game … so no-one stood a cat in hell’s chance of gelling. I hope that Garde doesn’t try to convince us how fair he is by leaving out the French players. We need Amavi, Gaye and Ayew to start, and we need to bring on Veretout over the next few games. And Sinclair … get him out wide left doubling up with Amavi – we had our best spell of the season when Tim tried that against Utd, so he promptly took Sinclair off. Doh!

  2. The team that finished Mondays game should start Sunday with Richards replacing Clark, Gana replacing Bacuna and Amavi replacing Richardson

  3. My my…Ilori is English. Born in Hampstead, darling. That’s quite good. I have seen one interesting “who could LRG pick” piece that actually paired him with Okore. But that particular formation can’t happen because it would be breach of contract (sue us, mate).

  4. Some prepared remarks:

    “Moneyball” is a discreet strategy designed to spirit as much money as possible back to Delaware, without impacting much on the purported sale price, over the next couple of seasons.

    “Which of those new signings would play instead of Lescott” – Ilori. Crespo couldnt be any worse. Richards.

    Given that it is highly likely that the Spanish-speaking contingent’s English is possibly no better than les Francais, would be nice if Garde spoke Spanish. Personally I view them as collectively more talented. Ilori will understand Spanish btw.

    I am curious to know why Ayew is French-speaking. He was born there because his Ghanaian father was at OM. Ghana being an old colony of yours, ‘n all. I’d imagine English being spoken at home and throughout the extended family. I bet that bird of his can speak English if she wants to, also.

    Let us not forget a potential serpentine theme Sunday….my stall on Digbeth market would have already sold out of the little plastic b******ds, if I had one.

    That is all.

  5. Wow this has got a few replies! Taking it back to the Headline, I agree with you Team selection has been shocking given what we actually know about the ones that have been on the pitch. I don’t care about players or managers feelings (they get paid enough to deal with critical comments) and if Sherwood would have put Kev Macs team out against Spurs I doubt that many would have come on here siding with him!
    The jury’s out on Remi and we all know he’s got a hugh task on to get us out of the shit, but I like the little comments that have come out of his mouth so far, and I honestly don’t think he cares much about the old Gaurd ( see what I done there)

  6. so now we actually want the moneyball to dictate the team selection after criticising moneyball for hampering tim signing players. After criticising almstadt and reilly for the signings they made, now you want their signings to play

    But i get it. nothing works at villa at the moment and if you continue to criticise villa, you’ll eventually contradict your previous criticisms. Maybe even end up contradicting previous criticism right up to lambert if results don’t improve soon

    • It doesn’t say we want the moneyball to dictate team selection, there is just a reference to the team selections just not adding up. I haven’t criticised moneyball, in fact I was one of the first to identify that’s what Villa had actually done – https://myoldmansaid.com/aston-villa-moneyball-approach-transfers/ . The problem was it was done in a somewhat extreme fashion. A couple more proven players to hit the ground running would have been a massive help making Villa stronger and assisting the younger players’ integration. Bringing in a couple of young players to play in the first team is hard enough, never mind overhauling over half of the first 11.

      • I agree with much of that MOMS but it goes further take 11 “star” players and send them out as a team and frequently they will get beaten by a lesser team determined to win , because there may well be no cohesion of play between the individual players . Or put it another way N’zogbia looked good at Wigan when he was their star player but even at Villa where he is one of several he looks crap as he is not a team player . And that’s part of the problem at Villa we have “star” players yet there is no total cohesion of the team for 90 mins as we lack leaders on the pitch . Ayew looked good just before & just after he scored as did the rest of the team but it did not last . And the problem is lack of leaders who can read the game and direct the team to respond

        • Spot on C Gale, and what’s more, we have no pattern of play. Sherwood’s philosophy seemed based on letting individuals ‘express’ themselves. All fine and dandy if the rest of the team is grafting with purpose and cohesion but they are not. It may look like individual errors are costing us – but it is more the fact that Villa are currently a group of eleven individuals – let’s hope Remi can forge a team out of them – and starting by building it around Ayew and Gana would be the right start.

  7. I think we should be playing this team at present.

    Traore Grealish Gil
    Gueye Sanchez
    Amavi Okore Richards Hutton

    Lescott is not playing well but is a great backup option and voice in the dressing room. Hutton I thought was on of our better performers against Spurs. Gil with Traore will provide the width and potential inverted winger play to get crosses into the box for Gestede while Sanchez is a solid DM with Gueye providing a bit more quality. Sadly I think Clark is absolutely shit and does not deserve to be anywhere near the 1st team and Gabby is shot. We are the laughing stock of the league at present.

    • I like this line up, but it has to be Ayew up front not Gestede. He is a championship player. Useful maybe as an impact sub, but not to start.

  8. Don’t be harsh on KEvin, who did not ask to be in this situation. A good man who has worked well for the club, he simply is not a manager and failed at Swindon Town. The most simple explanation for a very poor team selection is that he went with what he was familiar with. Also probably can’t speak French and the new guys may not speak English if they are from outside the country.

    There is a very good article on Football 365 on 5 things Remi must do, (a) tactics (b) out with the old – gabby, lescott, Richardson, Sinclair – (C) In with the new esp Amavi, AYew, and Veretout (d) start with Gestede (e) play Gil.

    All good stuff. Claims Gil’s omission irritates fans – that seems to be the case – and that on Monday he had more touches in 25 minutes than any villa player – 26 – and in 7 starts has averaged 1.7 key passes and 3.8 dribbles per 90 minutes.

    WOrth reading. I agree with C Gale that some of the new players are for the future, and I already said that fitness is a key problem so I welcome a tougher fitness regime. But leave Kevin alone, it was unfair to call on him but even more unfair to ask Sid Cowans to step in yet again. Look at the big picture please. This was a transition. Sunday the new era starts.

    and it won’t be overnight success. Garde hardly knows his players. I like the idea of Cole coming back though. Midfield lacks quality.

    trevor fisher.

    • Yes, MacDonald is a good guy, but lets leave sentiment at the door. The article demonstrates Villa weren’t using the players they had brought in the summer, and were trying to win a game with the leftovers from last season. It was never going to work.

      There are plenty of other articles looking at the ‘big picture’, this one highlighted a simple step to how Garde can instantly improve Villa’s lot and get supporters’ on-side.

      The whole language thing is over-rated. You’ll find most young people/players in Europe speak ok English, there is much more emphasis on it in schools, due to the American cultural influence on the world. Having travelled a lot in Europe over the past decade, that was one of the revelations I found.

      This country is streets behind in terms of speaking second languages, and we should not judge other people by our own low standards. Communication will not be an issue. The main advantage of having Garde speaking French as a first language, will be in dealing with the native French-speaking players one-to-one.

  9. So basically what you’re saying is if we play our best players, we will do much better!! haha

    I thought Sherwood was completely clueless until KMac took over and made him look like a tactical genius!

  10. Great article moms, first one I actually agree with anywhere on the net (I have read loads about villa recently trying to get my head around this situation).

  11. —————-Ayew————–





    Might be a bit top heavy and get a beating but I reckon that’s our most talented team. Guzan in there for lack of other options.

    • Richards is contracted to play as a CB even if fans can’t get it out of their heads that he was once a fullback

      • ‘Contracted to play as a CB’…oh, he’s got a ‘special centre-back contract’ has he? Well, he’s broken it then, as he spends most of his time in midfield!

    • Spot on Jason – Gana and Veretout with Sanchez as back up – let the creative players have a go and keep it more solid with Richards at RB (whatever he may feel is his best position) – until we find a right sided Amavi to replace the woeful Hutton Richards will have to suck it up and let the feeling of winning soothe his ire.

  12. So your point is that Paul was stupid (ok). Tim was stupid (maybe). And that Kev is stupid (GFY).

    While you, who have never worked with these players in training, are not. Please, apply for the job of manager, I’m sure your record in Football Manager 2005 will wow the board ( who after all, are idiots).

    That Lambert, Sherwood, and now MacDonald pick the same motley crew tells us more about the pathetic levels of investment that Lerner has put into AVFC since O’Neill pulled his pants down and then ran off rather than anything else.

    To expect that number of new signings to gel in three months was always an idiots proposal. To expect it when most of them had no previous experience of premier league football was moronic.

    If Garde is given time (note to all bedsheet painters) then he can be successful. But if the poor investment and lack of fan patience is allowed to rule again – he won’t – because we will never get to see what he could have done.

    Our weak if well meaning owner needs to grow a pair, and if the fans moan and whine, tell them what his plan is and take the consequences. If he has no plan (other than to stop losing money) be honest about it.

    If I hear one more halfwit bemoan the fact that we didn’t hire Tony Pulis or Sam Allardyce I will commit hari kiri. Those men are anti football, and Villa have always been about playing football. No matter what division we find ourselves in, we play football, and are a big club not because of our stadium or our fan base but because of that. Hiring a man like Pulis is lurking around outside the world’s best party just to say you were at the party, but really you never really got in. Albion don’t play football, they play let’s not lose. Which right now might seem appealing, but it is not the same as we’re going to win.

    Good things take time. Let’s give that gift to our new manager.

    AVFC – top club since 1874 – whatever division they were in.

    • I think even if your only football experience was playing Football Manager 1982, you would know if you spend £50m on players after selling the only decent ones that had propped you up for the last few seasons, you’d play them, or what’s the point? It’s not rocket science. I personally didn’t say anybody was stupid. I essentially asked, what was Kev Mac doing when he had a full deck to play with?

      Good players are good players and the ball is the same shape in England as in other parts of the world. How do players get Premier League experience? They play games, not sit in the stand or on the bench watching players that shouldn’t be wearing the shirt in the first place.

      • If Randy Lerner had added £50 million to what we got in from the sales then I think we could all be asking wtf?, right now But he didn’t. Instead he invested £7million net from last year’s premier league dividend, and for a team that has struggled for the last four or five years that strikes me as not only odd, but stupid. As it is, Villa paid over the odds for potential, and potential that was actually unproven over time in their own league, never mind ours.

        My point re KM team selection is that he too must see weakness in the new arrivals – hence picking a bunch of overpaid experience. This is the issue. Villa have thrown away too many points already through naivety and incompetence – I think KM was simply trying to stop us haemorrhaging anymore.

        Not exciting I know, but practical. The ball is indeed the same shape but the game is very different. Not many Tony Pulis types in France or Spain.

        Let’s hope Remi can cure us of the headless chicken syndrome.

    • i tell you now,,,, if we had pullis we would not be in this mess,,, pullis plays to his strengths
      when at palace he played great football with what he had,,, so i think your unfair about him
      he would have sorted us out and gave us something to build on
      that said over the past two games i have taken some positives,,,
      ayew and sinclair have shown in patches they can be good, and gil and grealish will come good as will traore, its just getting that balance and organisation right
      we have to stop the silly mistakes, they are killing us,,,, and that final pass or run into space has to be better,, so many poor crosses or wrong decisions

      to me sherwood was out of his depth, i just hope mr garde can see the problems and address them

      maby bacuna and gardner might become what we hoped

      • My baggies mates are happy with the league position but say they have never seen such awful negative football. I told them they should have come down the Villa when McLeish was in charge. Pulis does indeed play result football – but it will only ever keep you in a division – it will never raise you up it or win much. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea.

    • anti-football is whatever we’re doing right now, where you struggle to even get an opening to cross, where you can’t even get enough corners, where you can’t even get into opp’s territory and be there for more then 10 secs at a time

      Diagonal long balls by big sam and pulis means you gain territory easily like rugby. If i hear another halfwit bemoan the fact that big sam and pulis are anti-football they can go watch how villa keep giving the ball away just in front of their own box under sherwood and have fun with this kind of better football

  13. This didn’t need to happen full stop. The club generated £40m from sales of our core from last season. What was wrong with trying to replace the three with equally talented players? 3 in 3 out plus a keeper which I think we can all agree was a must. But they wanted the money ball approach with stats etc……… Sherwood was the fall guy and the new blood can’t get going in a team losing every week at the bottom of the table. One or two new players with potential is hard enough to blood in, 12 is just ridiculous!
    Let’s not forget villa net spend was very low considering the new TV revenue that’s seen teams spend a hell of a lot more

    • I agree. The new blood needed to be a blend/mix of experience. To do it drastically this way with so many largely unproven talent at this level is an unnecessary and reckless gamble.

    • We did wanted to bring in cleverly, adebayor, begovic, but they all turned us down. And if you add this three, our squad will not seem so inexperienced, and it would defeat criticism that the management did not back sherwood enough in signings

      • True, but there are other fish in the sea that could/should have been brought in before the start of the season. When the season started, I personally kept saying, Villa needed another two or three weeks preseason, because all these new French league players had hardly played together. We were far,far, far from prepared.

  14. So rather than look @ all that ??? wasted money perhaps we should look @ which of those new signings would play instead of Lescott . And perhaps fans should be reminded that in reference to some of those new signings TS stated that they were players for the future . But it would seem some fans assume the future is the next game as they are desparate to see the new players play so that they can start worshipping them, or castigatting them as rubbish or so it would seem!
    Oh and of course we should ignore the fitness levels of any new signigs as fans must see them play
    But maybe I’m being harsh ?

    However even I am disapointed that we are bottom , but I realise that it was a big gamble trying to integrate so many new players into the squad , especially as it apears there was a communication issue between our staff and players due to the lingo
    but if we must compare players maybe we should 1st question why Gabby’s injury problems have not been resolved or why Ayew looked crap the 1st time out . as it’s easy to to be selective & pick out the best bits of one player & the worse bits of another to make point
    But it’s no good doing that as the past has happened and all there is to look forward to is the future under our new manager

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